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Friday, August 11, 2000
Olympic organizers defend inflated food prices

 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Sydney organizers have defended inflated food prices at Games venues despite criticism that the cost of some items was double the recommended retail price.

 Hugh Taylor, catering program manager for the Olympics and Paralympics, said prices were fair and were set to ensure servicing the Games remained economically viable for caterers.

 Sydney organizers unveiled their core food price list Friday, outlining that prices would vary slightly from venue to venue depending on infrastructure and investment costs for caterers.

 "We did this in order to keep prices down," Taylor said. "I now believe there is a reasonable balance between prices and return investment having regard to the substantial risks being taken by caterers."

 Further price reductions would have "reduced the required quality and service levels. This may have resulted in the withdrawal of caterers."

 Taylor said the prices were in line with other major sporting events and had only become an issue because the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 Olympics had came under intense media scrutiny.

 Under strict Games-time legislation, spectators will only be allowed to take fruit, small items including sandwiches, and bottled water into Olympic venues.

 All people entering venues will be subjected to bag-searches and security checks, where any bulky or illegal items will be confiscated.

 The Australian Consumers Association condemned the price hikes.

 "Clearly these prices are outrageous, even allowing for the extra costs associated with the Olympics," association spokeswoman Louise Petschler. "People will have a perception that they're being ripped off."

 The New South Wales Council of Social Service said authorities should be forced to monitor food prices throughout Sydney to ensure against massive prices in restaurants and takeaway stores during the Games.

 The humble hotdog will cost $4 Cdn and a box of chips will cost $3.58.

 A meat pie served up in a plastic bag, without sauce -- which usually retails at Australian dollars $1.80 will cost between $3.13 and $3.58.

 A plastic cup of Victorian Bitter or Fosters beer, provided by the official brewer, will cost $4.30 while a 600-millilitre bottle of water will cost Australian dollars $2.87.

 Caterers planned to charge $4 for a 600-millilitre bottle of Coke, but Games organizers forced the price down to $3.40, the Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported.

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